The Warming House serves up hot drinking chocolate

Credit: Submitted image

It’s not a rolling food truck yet, but you can still find The Warming House at winter farmers markets and events like the Holiday Bake Sale at St. Paul’s Union Depot Dec. 7-8.

The Kingfield neighborhood couple behind The Warming House, Zachary and Jill Stafford, hit on the idea during last year’s prolonged winter. They worked up an appetite one day while snowshoeing, and wished they had an alternative to the park’s vending machine. They decided to further embrace winter and launch a wintertime food truck with drinking chocolate and homemade marshmallows.

“Working Downtown, I see the food trucks go away every winter and I’m bummed out,” Zachary said.

Zachary works as an e-commerce marketing specialist and Jill works as a business analyst. They thoroughly enjoyed their side project last summer, tasting chocolate and inventing recipes with the St. Croix Chocolate Co.

Zachary said their homemade marshmallows are creamier than factory-made marshmallows. And at home, they can infuse flavors like mint or chai, change the texture, or change the consistency. They can also coat the marshmallows with toppings like peanut brittle, candy cane or peppermint bark. Long-term, they plan to work in Verdant Tea’s communal kitchen to create vegan marshmallow recipes.

So far, most customers’ drink of choice is the classic drinking chocolate with coconut milk. Other favorites are Verdant Tea’s rooibus chai mixed with dark chocolate, and a spicier drinking chocolate made with peppers from a Lake Street market.

“It’s warming spicy, pushing the envelope for the Minnesota palate,” Zachary said.

The Warming House truck isn’t yet operational — it has trouble starting in the cold. A Kickstarter campaign last fall came short of its $14,000 goal, so repairs might take a while.

In addition to the Kingfield Winter Farmers Market, the Staffords are planning classes at Cooks of Crocus Hill. They envision a Valentine’s Day class with chocolate flights.

“We’re flexible,” Zachary said. “We’ll see where this takes us.”